A veritable medieval hideaway, Gerberoy with its roses, ramparts walk, gorgeous gardens and delicious dining make it a romantic destination hard to match.
Other than the Italianate Jardins Henri le Sidaner, an 11th-century church and a handful of intimate art galleries, Gerberoy has no real ‘sights’, leaving you free to amble its winding streets at your own pace. In season, colourful rose bushes embellish its half-timbered or brick-and-flint houses and flourish in every nook and cranny, while June sees an annual Rose Festival with special displays.
Now a haven of rural peace and escape from hectic modern life, Gerberoy was once a significant Norman stronghold due to its elevated position and has survived its region’s turbulent role in the French Revolution and World War I, as well as three dramatic fires, by the skin of its teeth.
Gerberoy’s restaurants and tea rooms are a must-visit, with some even giving you the opportunity to try Picardy’s famous roses in gastronomic form – try Le P’tit Gerberoy, a dessert of fromage frais with candied roses, served in the Jardins du Vidamé bistro/tea-room.
The villages of the Picardy coast
The area’s most well-known village is delightful Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, where along with cobbled lanes, medieval ramparts, a Gothic church and a riverside boardwalk you’ll find the starting point for the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme, a Belle Epoque narrow-gauge railway that takes in the length of the bay.
Another charming spot is Cayeux with its mile-long stretch of pebbles lined by 400 scenic beach huts, its shrimp-fishing harbour and its sailors’ chapel. Nearby Lanchères is on the map for its Maison de la Baie de Somme et de l’Oiseau, a bright modern museum of the local landscape and birdlife.
Other highlights include the lively resorts of Le Crotoy and Quend–Plage les Pins with their fine-sand beaches, Fort Mahon Plage with its fabulous dunes, Ault Onival with its chalk cliffs, and Saint-Riquier.
Discover Stunning Senlis and the Atmospheric Abbey of Chaalis.
With a charming setting in the heart of a beautiful forest and a rich architectural and cultural heritage, amble the narrow medieval cobbled streets and squares of Senlis.
Other highlights of a weekend in Senlis are the Art and Archaeology Museum, the Spahis military museum and the Hunting Museum. But top of your list should be the Gothic cathedral, a National Monument with an important 16th-century portal by Martin Chambiges.
When you visit Senlis, make time for a short detour to the Cistercian Abbaye de Chaalis – amidst its atmospheric ruins, there’s an intact chapel with Primaticcio frescos and a gorgeous rose garden. In the part of the abbey that was turned into a château, the Musée Jacquemart-André has a rich art collection including works by Giotto, Tintoretto, and many other eminent painters and sculptors, plus furniture and decorative arts and some Indian artefacts.
Small villages on the Champagne trail
Blessed with the perfect temperatures, rainfall and sunshine for nourishing vines and ripening grapes for champagne, this historic wine-growing region is an the ideal destination for a relaxing weekend escape. A casual drive along the Champagne route in the Valley of the Marne will have you take in some stunning villages and intimate Champagne houses.
Extending into the Aisne in Picardy, Champagne is a place to savour slowly and at your own pace – just as you would a coupe of the most romantic and life-affirming of drinks.
To visit some of the more intimate, family run Champagne producers, here is a list of those who provide tastings in English!
Maison vigneronne Fallet Dart
Focus on sustainability
2 Rue des Clos du Mont, Charly-sur-Marne Ph: + 33 3 23 82 01 73
Champagne Daniel Gerbaux
Vines surround this site, which uses traditional methods in the family run affaire.
Champagne Daniel Gerbaux 27 Rue Robert Gerbaux, 02570 Chézy-sur-Marne Ph: + 33 3 23 82 86 73
Champagne Lévèque Dehan
Eric and Nadine offer a lesson in pruning vines in their vineyard, a fun and interactive option in the region. They also have a 10 minute informative video and a tour of their traditional press.
8 Marcilly, 02850 Barzy-sur-Marne Ph: + 33 3 23 70 34 73
Champagne Méteyer - Father and Son
Enter into a secret world of Champagne production. This passionate collector will let you visit his museum and taste his champagnes.
Champagne Méteyer 39 rue de l'Europe 02850 Trélou sur Marne Ph: + 33 3 23 70 26 20